SEARCHING FOR AUTHENTICITY? UNDERSTANDING REPRESENTATION IN NETWORK GOVERNANCE: THE CASE OF FAITH ENGAGEMENT

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Abstract

With the growth of network governance, non-electoral forms of representation are of increasing significance. The claims of non-elected representatives are potentially more specific, explicit, and flexible than those of their elected counterparts. The quality of such claims can be assessed in relation to ‘authenticity’, rather than traditional criteria of authorization or accountability. These propositions are explored through first-hand accounts of ‘faith representatives’ involved in a variety of English urban governance partnerships. Representatives' claims expressed an aspiration to authenticity (which was not necessarily realized) in the sense of seeking ongoing and substantive consent from constituents, rather than assuming consent via a formalized and symbolic moment of election. Network governance may be best served by a mix of elected and non-elected representation, based upon an understanding of their complementary characteristics and of representation itself as a relational and emergent property.

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